The Central Indiana Community Foundation on Thursday announced that it will seek to raise $4 million for a fund to provide supportive services to formerly homeless residents who encounter other problems once they are housed.
The Housing to Recovery Fund will later this year start making grants from the fund to local organizations that provide supportive services, from initial outreach, housing navigation, help with getting benefits, negotiation with landlords and daily living skills. CICF, in partnership with the city, hopes to provide $1 million per year in grants for four years.
The fund is designed to tackle a problem that increased after Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett in 2017 launched an effort to provide 400 more housing units for the homeless—“the significant lack of service-provider capacity that was identified as additional units were developed,” according to the mayor’s office.
“We expect a whole host of positive outcomes” from the fund, Hogsett said Thursday. “An increase in supportive housing means a decrease in contact with police, a decrease in contact with emergency personnel. Medical needs can be met before there’s an emergency.”
Hogsett said the fund will support the city's goal of moving those in temporary housing to permanent housing, which he said is a “moral imperative.”
IBJ recently reported that at least 22 of the 70 homeless or formerly homeless individuals who died last year were housed at the time of their death, something that service providers partially attributed to the lack of supportive services.
Deputy Mayor Jeff Bennett said some caseworkers at these organizations have caseloads of 100-to-1, which limits the impact they can make. This funding should be able to help with that, he said.
CICF President and CEO Bryan Payne said the eventual grants that will be awarded from the fund will help build capacity in local service organizations, and help supplement what they can get reimbursed from governmental sources, which are often earmarked for very specific purposes.
“We need barrier-busting dollars,” Payne said.
Payne said CICF is seeking to raise $2 million this year and $2 million next year from the philanthropic community to support the fund. He said this effort is part of CICF's new mission to help decrease inequality and combat racism in Indianapolis.
CICF will be “giving significantly” to the fund, but Payne said “this needs to be a philanthropic priority” in Indianapolis.
Hogsett said he hopes business leaders and others who care about helping the homeless will give to the CICF fund so it can be used for this purpose.
“It’s not unusual for someone to approach me, and they will say or ask ‘how can we help?’” Hogsett said. “Hopefully today’s announcement will give them a vehicle through which they can profoundly move the dial.”
Chelsea Haring-Cozzi, director of the Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention, said the announcement is a milestone because it offers recognition that “homeless service providers cannot do this work alone,” and that there needs to be a community approach to address the issue.
She said the issue is urgent: CHIP’s annual point-in-time count was Wednesday, when Indianapolis endured a record low temperature of minus-11 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.
“Even in such extreme conditions,” Haring-Cozzi said, “people were found outside.”